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All About Tannins in Tea

Have you ever been to eager to get your morning or afternoon dose of caffeine that you have your tea on an empty stomach and feel sick and nauseated? Or you overbrew your tea, and it is not only stale but also excruciatingly bitter? All those unpleasant effects are due to chemicals called tannins.

Are Tannins Good or Bad?

We all heard the name. But what tannins actually are? Are they good or bad in your tea and should we avoid them?

Tannins Are Antioxidants

Tannins are a category of organic compounds that plants use as a defense mechanism, to make themselves unattractive to animals and bugs that might be interested in eating the plant. In addition to tea, they are found in coffee, nuts, wine, and many other foods. They are part of the polyphenol family which you might have heard of as being powerful antioxidants.

Tannins Cause Teeth Stains

If you are getting a teeth-whitening procedure or have naturally porous teeth, tannins are your enemy. Your dentist will advise to stay away from brightly colored foods, coffee, and black tea, so you would think that the lighter the color, the less it would stain, right? Wrong. White and even some herbal teas still contain tannins, and their staining ability isn’t correlated with their color at all.

Tannins Mess with Iron Absorption

..which may not be so bad, as excess iron is linked to cardiovascular issues and even Alzheimer’s. Studies have shown that high-tannin tea is able to prevent iron absorption from foods as well as lower its storage in the liver. Too little iron is just as bad for you, though, so consult with your health professional. Iron levels testing is pretty simple and straightforward.

So, what can you do to minimize the bitter taste attributed to tannins while still getting the caffeine boost and the health benefits of your daily cup?

Tip #1: Brew your tea in under 2 minutes.

During the first two minutes of tea brewing, all the caffeine is drawn out from the leaves. After approximately 3 minutes, tannins are beginning to leak out and cancel out the caffeine. If you drink stale tea, it would actually have calming effect instead of toning.

Tip #2: Try adding something.

The secret ingredient in the Southern-style iced tea is… baking soda. One pinch will magically take the bitterness away from your tea. Other possible tannin-neutralizing additions include: milk, lemon, and gelatin.

Tip #3: Do some research and testing.

As you might know, some wines taste less “dry” because they are naturally low in tannins, which depends on the soil they are grown on. This applies to tea as well. If you don’t want the dryness and bitterness tannins bring to the table, try low-tannin varieties, like our Green Premium tea.